A successful beef project relies on an effective feeding program. It’s important to know about the different types of feeds and their purposes. Everyone has his or her own opinion about brands of feed, but the foundation is the same. There are three stages in feeding cattle: creep and transition, grower or developer, and finisher. Knowing when to use the proper feed for your animal is crucial for getting your animal to its prime.
This post explains the importance of grower and developer feeds. It is the second part of our discussion of a successful feeding program. Check out the first installment on creep feeds and transition feeds here.
Once a calf is weaned off the mother, it is crucial that it gets started on grain.
This transition should be easy if your calf has been creep fed. If not, calf grower is designed to be very palatable to help a calf start eating grain. Most calves are started on a grower once they hit the 500-pound mark. But, since every calf is different, use your best judgment. Some need to be started sooner, while others may start later.
The goal of the grower is to promote muscle and bone growth.
This sets the foundation for a good fat steer. Like creep feed, most calf growers are medicated. Grower feeds are usually 12-13% protein. This protein helps promote muscle growth more than frame growth. Fat content is usually around 3% and fiber ranges from 12-15%. As we discussed in the first installment, fiber helps regulate the rumen.
(The photo above features only three of several different options available on the market.)
Calf developer produces similar effects. Creep-fed calves require a grower and then transition to a finisher. This is because the creep feed has already promoted muscle and bulk at a young age. But calves that haven’t been creep fed may lack substance or muscle.
A developer increases bulk and muscle faster than grower.
Developer is ideal for getting calves out of the green stage quickly. It can also be used for calves on grower that might not be bulking up as fast.
Developer feeds include the same protein content as a grower but have a 2-3% higher fat and fiber content. Often these calves aren’t lacking muscle, but they have a larger frame. The higher fat content develops mass faster, making them appear fuller. The higher fiber content keeps the rumen normal, but it also results in a full appearance.